Lindsay Ashley from sound and circle says she creates paper goods that are not only beautiful and fashionable, but also “super functional and customizable.”
“Because I do everything in-house rather than outsourcing to a big print shop, I can offer a lot of options,” says Ashley. “I love creating these tools and then imagining my clients using them and feeling a little calmer.”
Somehow she doesn’t consider making planners and notebooks “creative” because it’s the practicality, Enneagram 3, Type A, of her simple design of tools that will help others to get a little more organized and be a little more productive. .
“But,” she adds, “by honing my design skills over the years and learning even more about the process, there’s more creativity involved than a lot of people probably initially realize. I love using soft colors in my designs and keeping everything clean and functional. I think there’s beauty in the simple and the classic.”
Before becoming a business owner, Ashley was a college math and science teacher and had no basic knowledge of graphic design or business management.
“I’ve always loved organization and all kinds of paper goods (we’re talking about Lisa Frank’s stationery and sticker collections as a tween, and decorating notebook covers with magazine cutouts nerve-wracking as a middle schooler). I loved organizing my class and writing my lessons in a planbook that I made myself.”
When she quit teaching to have her first child, Ashley loved staying home, but wanted to work on something else that made her feel “human and adult”.
“I think a lot of new moms may feel like they’ve lost some of their old identity,” she says. “It’s hard to move into a new role that isn’t at all quantifiable in your success. So a friend and I opened an Etsy shop selling prints and handwritten cards. Learning something new was exciting and empowering , and from there I figured out how to design and print notepads, then notebooks, then finally planners, my process was clunky but always getting better.
With the similar business Ashley had before Sound & Circle, she says it was more of a hobby than a business, and the owners came to a crossroads when they wanted different results.
“For me, I wanted to build a sustainable business that could support my family and allow me to stay home with my three children,” Ashley comments. In April 2020 they closed their store and it reopened under Sound & Circle in June 2020.
At that time, her youngest was 6 months old and her husband was working long hours as a care home administrator during a pandemic.
“So that was a lot! she comments. “But, my business grew rapidly, and I could really see it becoming something sustainable, which was exciting! I had a clearer vision, a more defined brand, and bigger goals. I was able to invest in bigger and better equipment and have slowly amassed my small print shop over the past year and a half.I have also invested in branding, SEO, photography and building my workspace at residence.
Every aspect of its process has changed from how it used to do things, meaning it is now positioned to evolve even further in 2022.
Starting this business with young children can be very busy at times, admits Ashley, but it has also given her a part of her identity besides being a full-time mother.
“It gives me a creative outlet and goals to work toward.” she says. “Being a business owner, however, means going through seasons where you feel confident, fulfilling and unstoppable, then swinging into a season of self-doubt, comparison and frustration.”
Ashley finds Puget Sound’s community of creators and small business owners to be incredibly supportive: “I’ve been a member of The Pod Works for several years, a coworking space for moms at University Place,” she says. “It’s so powerful to see women raising babies and growing businesses. Women entrepreneurs are creating a new space for what business ownership can look like.”
Especially during the pandemic, when in-person events have been limited, Ashley has taken to Instagram to connect with fellow makers.
“The willingness to hype someone you’ve never met before is unmatched in the creator community!” she says. “And now meeting more of my IG friends in person has filled my cup!”
“I don’t think people think of buying from a small company when it comes to something like a planner,” Ashley says, encouraging people to do so. “The next time you realize how overwhelmed you are with your tasks, consider supporting your local maker by purchasing a super customizable planner, weekly notepad, address book or calendar!”
Find detailed information on Sound & Circle products on its website. Ashley is also very active on instagramwhere she shares many behind-the-scenes clips, as well as posts about stores where her products can be found and upcoming events where she will be selling.